I am speaking with my math department colleagues at the graduation ceremony this past June. Between the math terms and the Sringlish, I have no idea what any of them are saying.

You may recall some months ago that Shaun and I gave up (actually I prefer to say “slowed down the pace”) of our Sinhala studies to immerse ourselves more fully into the art of Sringlish (Sri Lankan English). When we first arrived, many times I found myself listening to words that were definitely English, but couldn’t piece together what the specific combination of words meant. Throw in the incessant head bobble and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.

Fortunately, Shaun and I have become very adept at understanding most of these wonderful Sri Lankan English phrases and it is only when another foreigner visits that we are reminded of how nonsensical they first seemed.

To illustrate the point, I will write this next paragraph entirely in Sri Lankan English. Challenge yourself and see if you can figure it out before scrolling to the bottom for the “translation.” Also included is a wonderful post by our favourite Sri Lankan comedian.

Sringlish

These days are most terrible. My son refused to visit a marriage broker. Instead he insists on carrying on and gallivanting.  Aiyo! I think he has reached the bloody height of madness. Then this evening,  the three-wheeler man would not give me my balance. When I put a complaint he drove off. Cha! Useless bugger and bloody coward  – no? Lastly, boss wants a report at my earliest. I most probably will do the needful tonight itself.

Translation

I have had a rough day. My son won’t see a professional matchmaker. Instead, he insists on going out with friends and partying until around 10 p.m. on the weekends. Oh dear! I think his behaviour is crazy. Then, at around 3 p.m., I took a ride in a tuk-tuk and the driver refused to give me the change I was due. I tried to confront him, but he drove away. (Insert the euphemism of your choice).  Don’t you think he is a useless man and a coward? To top it all off my boss wants a report asap. I seriously intend to do it tonight.*

*NOTE:*This last statement is difficult to understand because the phrase “most probably” usually indicates it won’t happen but the word “itself” after tonight denotes the serious attention to the matter TONIGHT. The use of both these phrases in one statement work together kind of like a double negative confusing even the most skilled interpreter of Sringlish.

Many happy returns of the day to all our readers,

Trina

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